Get to Know - Retrolux

By Alec Kissoondyal

The release of the music video 'Sucker' represents another milestone in the career of the Indie-Electronic band Retrolux, which is composed of dynamic duo Anna James, the vocalist, and Maynard Shaye, the producer. Their talent and dedication have led them to direct their attention further north to locations with greater opportunities and lower temperatures than that of Gainesville, Florida, where the band was first created.

In an interview conducted with Anna James, she expanded upon the decision to relocate and pursue opportunities elsewhere, the band's collaboration with well-known producer Valleyz, and the making of their most recent music video for the song 'Sucker.'

"The band relocated to New York," James said. "Shaye lives in New York, but I'm about to move to Toronto, so we're going to be playing shows both in New York and Toronto."

These bigger cities lend themselves to Retrolux's growing ambitions, as James discovered firsthand when she visited Shaye in New York.

"Shaye wanted to move to New York to pursue his videography, and he felt that Gainesville was too small of a town, and I grew up in Gainesville, and I just graduated. I haven't lived the city life yet, but I went to visit Shaye, and there's just so many more opportunities, and venues and resources in larger cities, and I feel like we outgrew Gainesville so I'm really excited to see what we can put out there."

Cities such as New York and Toronto are proverbial Meccas for musicians and other artists courageous enough to take the next step in their careers. Because of this, one would assume that there would be a strong sense of competition, but James sees it in a different light.

"I feel like it's just more people that we can meet and collaborate with. I don't see it as competition because being an artist, there is so much room for Spotify plays. There are so many people who listen to music on Spotify, and the biggest thing in 2019 is getting the streams, getting likes on Facebook, all that Internet stuff, so you can blow up on the Internet and not even play any shows. But I think that there's always a night where somebody can play a show. I don't see it as bad competition, I see it as opportunity."

Collaborating with other artists has certainly bore fruit for Retrolux, who collaborated with the producer known as Valleyz on their song 'Sucker.' Valleyz is best known for his work on the immensely popular song, 'Pine and Ginger,' which has been streamed over 10 million times on Spotify.

"Greg, who is Valleyz, we both grew up in Gainesville, and we were friends in high school. He moved to Orlando, and he was living in Orlando during the time that he made the ‘Pine and Ginger’ song. He moved back to Gainesville right around the time that we collaborated and he didn't really have any other music friends so he hit Shaye and I up and he was like 'hey do you guys want to collab?' and we were totally down."

While Retrolux's collaborations with other artists is notable, it is their work ethic that truly allows them to stand out. Normally, the term 'work ethic' is nebulous and unquantifiable, but in the case of Retrolux, the result of their hard work can be seen in their newest music video, which they made for the song 'Sucker.' James mentions the work and thought that they put into meticulously crafting the 'Sucker' video, as well as what she and Shaye learned from the first video they made for their song 'W/O U,' and how it allowed them to improve.

"Shaye and I completely did the ‘W/O U’ music video by ourselves. We completely made the ‘Sucker’ video by ourselves, and Greg made a cameo. With the first music video, Shaye and I had to learn how to work as a team, where we could and could not film, and how long filming would actually take. So going into the Sucker music video, we wanted more aesthetically pleasing shots. We got a few good shots in the first video by accident, so for the second video we made more of an effort to set up more aesthetically pleasing shots, and we went into it knowing that it would take a much longer time to film than we originally thought. Also, Shaye wanted to play around with different videography techniques, and different effects to make it cooler than the first one. I think we were more comfortable filming with each other, and we had a better idea of what to bring and how we needed to dress, and how we needed to set up, so we had a better idea of what to do the second time."

Despite Retrolux being relocated to New York, the video for 'Sucker' still expresses a lot of love for Gainesville, where all of it was filmed. The video displays a number of interesting visuals consisting of mirrors, disco balls, trophies, a tennis racket, and James herself destroying the trophies in various ways, some of which include the use of the previously mentioned tennis racket.

"Greg, Shaye, and I went to the repurpose project right by Satchel’s, and they just have a bunch of junk for really cheap, so we went there to see what we could use for props, and we found these three huge mirrors, and we saw those trophies, and we found the tennis racket and  these disco ball ornaments. We didn't know what we were doing, but we grabbed a lot of fun props. We weren't totally sure what the storyline was going to be at first, but what we decided during editing was that Greg was the guy that screwed me over, and the trophies were supposed to look like they belong to him, and the scenes with me hitting the trophies were me saying 'Screw You!'"

dave kosciolek